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What it is
Landscape designer and woodworker Kaisa Dille’s rustic hanging planters, bud vases and benches
Who she is
Sometimes we arrive at those earth-shattering “a-ha” moments at the most unexpected time or place. During Dille’s sixth and last interview for a position at a major ad agency in Chicago, the vice president of the company asked her to identify her favorite job in her professional career. Her answer, as much to her own surprise as his, was “livestock manager.” Dille grew up on a farm in Minnesota with a self-described “magical” upbringing that revolved around nature—from educational tree charts in the family bathroom to walks in the woods with her dad to odd jobs on the farm. Despite getting an offer at the ad agency, Dille realized how much she missed getting her hands dirty after years of desk work, studying economics (with a minor in studio art) in college and working in marketing for a part of her twenties. She declined the offer and, through a friend’s connection, got a job as project manager with landscape designer Michael Hansel, who refreshed her latent knowledge of gardening and provided a comprehensive education on the job. She also tinkered with woodwork using basic hand tools at home. Less than a year ago, Dille branched off to start her own business, splitting her time between urban, sustainability-minded landscape design (primarily for residences) and woodwork of the custom and ready-made variety.
What she makes
Using salvaged old-growth and rough-sawn wood from places such as the ReBuilding Exchange and road trips through the countryside “knocking on farmers’ doors,” Dille makes tree swings ($70–$80), bud vases ($50–$75) and hanging planters ($125–$220) that frame flowers and greens as living artwork. Taking full advantage of her gardening know-how, she’ll outfit and install the planter, too, for an extra fee. Beyond the ready-made line, Dille is continuously growing her custom offerings, which include benches ($200–$300) that show off the natural curve of the tree bark.